Whether we realize it or not, humans use expectations to measure our satisfaction with an experience. If our expectations are not met, we feel disappointment and frustration. If the expectations are fulfilled, we’re satisfied. But the true magic occurs only when our expectations are exceeded. When our expectations are surpassed, not only are we thrilled with the result, but the experience is cemented in our memory for some time. Plot twists are a great way for a developer to defy expectations and delight the player with something they would never have predicted.
Like movies, twists are becoming more and more prevalent in video games. It’s gotten to the point where it’s actually more surprising if a game *doesn’t* have some transcendental reversal near the conclusion. I’ve compiled a list of twists in video games that are both unexpected and masterfully executed. Enjoy!
BEWARE: Rampant spoilers for the following games: Metroid, Metal Gear Solid 2, Half Life 2: Episode 2, Journey, Heavy Rain, Metal Gear Solid 4, Bioshock Infinite, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy VII, and Red Dead Redemption. You have been warned. Here be dragons.
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This article was first posted on June 29, 2013